Ta-Nedjem's funerary linen auctioned in Paris

On May 5th 2015 an ancient Egyptian painted funerary linen was displayed in Paris. The rare textile was presented by the auction house PIASA (www.piasa.fr) and was auctioned on Thursday, June 18th, 2015 at 3pm as part of a sale of Old Master Paintings, furniture & artifacts.
The canvas was on display at PIASA, 118 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré 75008 Paris on Monday June 15th from 10am to 19pm, on Tuesday June 16th from 10am to 19pm, on Wednesday June 17th from 10am to 19pm and on Thursday June 18th from 10am to 12 noon.
Funerary canvas of Ta-Nedjem
Most likely from Deir el-Medina
New Kingdom, end of the 18th dynasty
Painted linen
Height: 29 cm
Length: 21 cm

Dated from the New Kingdom and more specifically from the end of the 18th dynasty (around 1,400-1,300 BC), the funerary painting is executed on a polychrome linen cloth, commonly used for the mummy bandages and shrouds. It is said to have been discovered by Bernard Bruyère, during his excavations of Deir el-Medina with the French Institute. It appears to have been acquired by Lucien Lépine at Qurna before 1926. The same year it came into the possession of Paul Mallon (1884-1975), a Parisian antiquarian.
A hand written contemporary card with the image and the data referring to the linen could be viewed at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/41227380/Documents/PIASA-18-June-15-Paul-Mallon.pdf - the link is no longer available on-line  
A year later it formed a part of collection of Madame Arthur Sachs. Loviton Jeanne (1903-1996) acquired the linen in 1939 and it remained in the family until now.

The canvas represents profile of a seated male facing to the right. A heaped offering table stands in front of him. He wears a white mid-length pleated kilt, his neck is adorned with an usekh necklace. On his head he wears a short black curly wig topped with an ointment cone. The seat on which he sits is black, has animal legs and a high curved back. He holds a piece of cloth in his right hand while his left hand is extended towards the offerings, consisting of 3 pieces of bread, 3 pieces of vegetable and a piece of meat. In the field in front of him, there are two hieroglyphic columns written in black ink. They read from top to bottom, the column on the right first:
1st column: wdn xt nbt nfrt wabt = Offering everything beautiful and pure
2nd column: n kA n tA-nDm mAa xrw  = for the Ka of Ta-Nedjem, true of voice

Images painted on funerary textiles always portray the deceased sitting in front of an offering table. In some cases the deceased is accompanied by an official. The only funerary linen discovered in situ was the textile in the tomb 1159 of Sennefer. One large white linen painted cloth was covering Sennefer's coffin. It contained a painted scene of Sennefer seated in front of an offering table. The
inscription reads: "Osiris, Servant in the Place of Truth, Sennefer".
Photography © kairoinfo4u

This painted piece of cloth is a part of a small corpus of funerary canvases of which only twenty-two known surviving examples were listed by Khaled el-Enany (BIFAO 110, see bibliography below). Most of these canvases are kept in major international museums. Three of them share similarities with Ta-Nedjem's square in the way the body of the seated person is painted to the point that it was suggested the same artist might have executed all 4 of them. The other 3 come from the Louvre, Paris (linen square of the Scribe Khonson, end of the 18th-early 19th dynasty, Inv. N847), the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (linen, end of the 18th-early 19th dynasty, Inv. 1981.657) and from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (linen of Hori, end of the 18th-early 19th dynasty, Inv. 44.2.3).

Ta-Nedjem is not one of the well known characters from Deir el-Medina. Although Bernard Bruyère's dig diaries (http://www.ifao.egnet.net/bases/archives/bruyere/) contain the name of Ta-Nedjem preceded with "f", suggesting the name belonged to a female, the linen is not mentioned or drawn by Bruyère. Ta-Nedjem is an attested New Kingdom feminine name but that does not seem to correspond with the image of the seated man.

Ta-Nedjem's linen will be published by Annie Gasse of The National Center for Scientific Research, since this new work challenges the various works published date on the number of pieces that make up this corpus.

Provenance of the object:
- Former collection Lucien Lépine, acquired before 1926 Qurna.
- Paul Mallon (1884-1975), antiquarian, Paris, acquired in 1926.
- Former Madame Arthur Sachs collection, acquired in 1927.
- Former collection Loviton Jeanne (1903-1996), acquired in 1939.
- Remained in the family

Ta-Nedjem's linen fetched 374,000 euros ($426,000) at auction in Paris on Thursday June the 18th.
The winning bid was made by telephone and the identity of the buyer was not disclosed. Bidding started at 50,000 euros and wrapped up in a matter of minutes, organisers said.

1. K. el-Enany, “Un carré de lin peint au musée de l’Agriculture du Caire (inv. 893)” dans BIFAO 110, Le Caire, 2010, pp. 35-45.
2. Y. Volokhine, L’art du contour, catalogue d’exposition, Paris, 2013, p. 227, n° 80.
Mummies & magic. The funerary arts of ancient Egypt, catalogue d’exposition, Boston, 1988, p. 135, n° 71.
3. W. C. Hayes, The scepter of Egypt, New York, 1959, p. 320, fig. 202.
Centenaire de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, catalogue d’exposition, Le Caire, 1981, pp. 52-53, n° 38.

Web sites accessed during May 11-17, 2015:
June 18th 2015: